Rail franchises operators & contracts

13.09.05

Government slammed over franchise plans

The Government was criticised last month for neglecting mainline services in South West in the forthcoming Greater Western franchise proposals.

The claims came from Sewta, the South East Wales Transport Alliance, which argues that the Greater Western franchise specification will fail to provide an adequate base for a 10 year development plan for the South Wales main line.

Sewta claims that the government is sidelining the policies set out by the Welsh Assembly in favour of Westminster’s primary objectives for the railways, including the proposal to reduce Cardiff-London service to only one train an hour at some times of the day. Sewta are urging the government to urgently review the specification for the franchise, which begins next April.

Councillor Tom Williams of Caerphilly, Chair of Sewta, said, “Maintaining, let alone enhancing, the South Wales main line services is not amongst the Westminster Government’s transportation policies. We are talking here about reducing the level of a major inter capital train service. This is a situation that cannot be allowed to pass without a forceful collective response from all the partners in Sewta.”

Criticism, however, was not restricted to the Wales-section of the route, as the London Transport Users' Committee (LTUC) warned the government that the proposals for the new franchise would be insufficient to meet expected the rising passenger numbers in and around London. Brian Cooke, Chair, LTUC, said, "Passengers using stations on the new Greater Western franchise between Slough and Paddington deserve more trains than the franchise specification suggests they will get.”

The bidders for the new Greater Western franchise are First Great Western, Wessex Trains and Stagecoach. The winner of the franchise will be announced on 21 December.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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